Patients feel effects of nurses strike

Patients feel effects of nurses strike
Health services in several parts of Sweden began redirecting ambulance traffic so that emergency rooms participating in the healthcare workers strike can close as planned at noon on Monday.

Emergency patients in the Gothenburg will have one less place to turn to when the emergency room at Sahlgrenska University Hospital/Östra closes its doors.

“Redirecting ambulance traffic has already started and its pretty empty right now, only a sprinkling of patients who came here on their own,” said Ann-Christine Andersson, spokesperson for Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Sahlgrenska University Hospital has canceled nearly 100 planned operations this week as a result of the nurses’ strike.

“Lines will start getting longer tonight,” said Andersson.

Monday morning ambulance traffic is also being redirected away from St. Göran’s Hospital to other emergency rooms in Stockholm. On an normal day, around 200 patients arrive at the hospital’s emergency room.

In the Stockholm area, the Swedish Association of Healthcare Professionals (Vårdförbundet) has called for 800 healthcare workers to strike. But just over half of them cannot participate until a committee first rules on whether the strike measures are a danger to society, according to Eva Nowak, vice chair of the healthcare union’s Stockholm branch.

Emergency rooms in the Stockholm area are dealing with the strike by setting up a rolling schedule of closures. On Monday, the emergency room at St. Göran’s Hospital is closed, with the urgent care ward at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge next in line for closure on Tuesday.

If the union succeeds in its fight for a significant pay raise, the finances of Sweden’s County Councils will be affected.

“Either you are forced to compensate with higher taxes or reduce the level of services,” said Mats Dillén, director of National Institute of Economic Research (Konjunkturinstitutet), who also emphasized that he isn’t taking a position in the labour strife.

There is yet an additional aspect to consider for the national economy.

“It depends on how many other groups in the labour market take a position on the matter,” said Dillén.

If other labour associations go along with the nurses’ possible pay raise, there is a risk that a wage and price spiral may spread as a result.